For a couple of years now, before I became a Steelers Depot contributor nearly one year ago, I have kept a personal running spreadsheet during the draft process. The goal for me was to learn about the players, gathering information that I have tweaked along the way as I’m sure I will continue to do in the future. With great questions and conversations with some your responses to previous articles, people have seemed interested in this information I’ve referenced, so today I will share visualizations of the data points I create each year, simply called interest and athletic scores with explanations to follow.
As Dave Bryan and Alex Kozora discuss regularly, the Steelers have a type of player they look for, and what the scores attempt to achieve is seeing who checks many of those boxes, or vice versa. You will notice many of the inspirations for these scores come from their studies of draft trends over the years for Pittsburgh, with their in-depth research second to none being one of the main reasons I pursued a position and count my blessings to work with the great football minds at Steelers Depot. While there is no perfect way to predict perfectly what selections the Steelers will make in the draft at the end of the month, I feel great about what the data points measure and of course would love to hear feedback as I’m always looking to improve the points system. Also, there is only so much time in the day and additional things I’d like to measure, so I focus on the crucial and/or practical choices in my opinion.
Now for more explanation to how the scores come together. The biggest point I want to make right off the bat is this is not a big board or round projection view, rather trying to pinpoint names the Steelers may select regardless of when they are drafted. After I get a healthy pool of names that I hear about or research, I begin the scoring.
Interest Score: Here I configured a points system for the following important questions. How did the player perform in college? Does their height and weight match up to the body type of any player Pittsburgh has drafted at the position since 2010? What is their experience, age? Do they play a position of need? What was their level of competition? Who attended their pro day? Did they have a pre-draft meeting? Did they appear in the Senior or Shrine Bowl?
This matches up nicely to the Athletic Score: simply 11 combine metrics excluding wingspan, and whether or not they were within a threshold in each metric of any player drafted at their position by the Steelers since 2010.
Clear as mud? Here are the cornerbacks:
Cincinnati cornerback Coby Bryant tops the interest scores including a pre-draft meeting and strong pro day attendance with age and level of competition his lowest marks, along with a ten athletic score (slower three cone that would set a new precedent) and seems to be a day two option. Georgia cornerback Derion Kendrick ranks second in interest score checking many of the boxes but only a five athletic score (three DNP’s and poor 40, vertical, and broad jump that would set new precedents), and in my RAS Steeler RAS Draft History article, found he would be the lowest RAS at the position since 2010 if selected. Pittsburgh cornerback Damarri Mathis ranks third in interest score with his lowest marks in college performance and age along with a nine athletic score (two DNP’s) and seems to be a late day two-early day three candidate. Clemson cornerback Mario Goodrich ranks fourth in interest score with a middling age result his lowest mark along with a seven athletic score (three DNP’s and low vertical that would set a new precedent) and appears to be a day three option.
After a drop off we see the group with above eight interest scores. Cordale Flott ranks fifth with no bowl appearance and less experience comparatively as his lowest marks along with a six athletic score (three DNP’s, poor weight, and hand size that would set new precedents) and appears to be another day three option. Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth ranks sixth in interest score for the same reasons with a four athletic score (lack of testing) and seemingly is a first-round guy. Penn State cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields ranks eighth in interest score with college performance and age as his lowest marks and the first player with a perfect 11 athletic score through my points system, and appears to be a day three option. LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is the final player at the position with an above eight interest score with lack of bowl game and experience comparatively his lowest marks along with an eight athletic score (three DNP’s) and appears he will be off the board before Pittsburgh’s current top pick at 20.
Here are the cornerbacks with above seven interest scores: Sauce Gardner (Cincinnati), Josh Thompson (Texas), Akayleb Evans (Missouri), Ja’Sir Taylor (Wake Forest), Jaylen Watson (Washington State), Joshua Jobe (Alabama), Kyler McMichael (North Carolina), Jalyn Armour Davis (Alabama), and Vincent Gray (Michigan).
There are many other intriguing names at the position with strong results, and especially wanted to point out some. Three players made Alex Kozora’s “What The Steelers Look For Study”, all landing in the six range of interest scores: Kyler Gordon (Washington), Chase Lucas (Arizona State), and Isaac Taylor-Stuart (USC). Houston cornerback Marcus Jones who also had a pre-draft meeting, but a smaller player and lack of testing resulted in an athletic score of one. Speaking of athletic scores, there are several names to consider on the right of the graph (apologies for the clutter on the graph but highlights my point), knowing the strong history Pittsburgh has at drafting this type at the position.
Do you think Pittsburgh will draft one of the names listed above? Who are some of your favorites? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments!